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Nielsen study shows media industry and marketers often miss the mark in connecting with Black consumers

Gaby M. Rojas

Nielsen’s latest Diverse Intelligence Series report, “Amplifying Black Voices in Media: Creating informed, thoughtful and authentic experiences,” explores why 2022 saw a 10 percentage point decline in Black viewers who are more likely to buy from brands that advertise in inclusive content compared to 2021.


The report delves into the reasons behind this decline, examining the relationship between authenticity and engagement and the impact of inclusion beyond what’s on screen.

Report Findings

Black audiences are seeking more authenticity and nuance in media content and ad campaigns. Nielsen’s Attitudes on Representation on TV study found that 59 percent of Black viewers are more likely to buy from brands that feature someone from their identity group in advertisements, while Nielsen’s Branded Content Outcomes studies show significantly higher performance for campaigns that feature Black talent.

Brands attempting to reach Black consumers through ad placements in inclusive content are investing heavily with over $1.2 billion spent in Black and African American targeted traditional media in the first half of 2022 alone. However, Black audiences prefer streaming: 63% report streaming content as their most watched platform and 62 percent indicated streaming as the most relevant platform.

Nielsen’s report underscores that Black audiences also care about how they are represented in media content and where their images and experiences are presented. Only 32 percent of Black audiences feel industry representation of their identity group is accurate, and the growing intersectional identities within the Black community make nuanced representation more important than ever.

The report also highlights the power of partnering with Black talent at every stage of the marketing funnel—from campaign creators and media owners, to on-screen talent and social media influencers.

“The media industry has an opportunity to better serve the needs of Black audiences through inclusive and equitable representation on screen, behind the scenes, in advertising, and on other platforms where they come into contact with brands and content creators” says Charlene Polite Corley, vice president, Diverse Insights & Partnerships at Nielsen. “Black audiences wield cultural influence and growing buying power, and serving the needs of this community is not only good business, but it is also the right thing to do.”

Key findings from the report include:

Supporting Black-owned media can attract new audiences.

  • All viewers watched more than 140 million hours of content from Black-owned networks in March 2022―double what Black audiences alone watched.
  • Black audiences are 50 percent more likely than the general population to seek out diverse-owned media.

Streaming provides more authentic choices for Black viewers, and they prefer it over broadcast and cable.

  • In July 2022, time spent streaming accounted for the largest share of Black audience TV time at over 36 percent.
  • Black viewers also reported streaming as their most watched platform (63 percent) and most relevant platform (62 percent)

Inclusion throughout the marketing funnel increases performance.

  • Black-focused agencies deliver higher performance overall, with 83% of the highest brand metric scores in Familiarity Lift, Affinity Lift, Purchase Intent Lift, and Recommendation Intent Lift.
  • 59 percent of Black viewers are more likely to buy from brands that feature someone from their identity group in advertisements.
  • Black adults were 71 percent more likely to buy products endorsed by influencers on social media.

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